Cancer Survivors, Victims Honored in Yorktown at Support-A-Walk
Photo Caption: Erin (left) and Katie French (right) hug their mother Julia Rush (center) after surprising her with more than 40 friends and family to walk with them at the 19th annual Support-A-Walk in FDR State Park Sunday. Photo Contributed
YORKTOWN, N.Y. ━ Cancer survivor Julia Rush got a pleasant surprise when her daughters showed up with about 40 friends and family to walk with them as “Team Jules” in the 19th annual Support-A-Walk Sunday in Yorktown.
Rush, of Ossining, is celebrating 10 years since she has been ovarian cancer free. She and her daughters, Katie and Erin French, have walked in the event at FDR State Park for years, while some of their new recruits, like Ashley Raniolo, walked for the first time Sunday.
“When Julia, Erin and Katie walked into the park we were all there wearing ‘Team Jules’ shirts and chanting ‘Team Jules, Team Jules,’” said Raniolo, of Yorktown, who is friends with Katie. “She was extremely surprised and touched that everyone came out to support her.”
In another emotional moment, two Wappingers women fought back tears as they remembered their late friend Linda Samperi, who lost her long battle with ovarian cancer about six years ago. With her birthday having just passed Oct. 2, the three-mile walk through FDR State Park in Yorktown was particularly poignant for Chris Gallagher and Mary Felipe, both of whom knew her and her four kids for decades.
“She was my first friend when I moved to Wappingers,” Felipe said.
They created t-shirts with a photo of their dear friend printed on the front, which all 15 members of “Team Linda” wore for the walk.
The annual walk is organized by the 501(c)3 organization called Support Connection and is held to bring attention to the needs of breast and ovarian cancer victims. People walk in celebration or as a tribute to those affected by the disease and to help raise money for Support Connection, which provides emotional, social and educational support for free if charge to women affected by breast and ovarian cancer, as well as their families and friends.
Support Connection was the first call Jacqueline White made after being diagnosed with breast cancer in March.
“They helped me through the very difficult stage,” she said.
The Elmsford woman has completed her radiation treatment and, Sunday, got a boost of morale walking with her partner Renee Byfield in the Support-A-Walk.
“I’m very happy and privileged to be here and seeing all these people,” White said.
The annual walk was co-founded by Rich Adamski, who lost his wife, Myra, to breast cancer in 1994, and Nancy Heller, who is a 28-year breast cancer survivor.
After his wife passed, Adamski organized a group, which included Heller, to go to a breast cancer awareness walk in New York City. On the bus back from the city that day, Heller had the idea to do a walk in Northern Westchester.
“In 1995 we held our first Walk and it became evident there was more to accomplish in our communities,” Heller wrote on the Support Connection website. “The next year, we founded Support Connection so women with breast and ovarian cancer would have someplace to turn. I am truly proud of what Support Connection has become. Women do not have to search like I did to seek support. Survivors can reach out and connect with one another, and they find others who listen, understand and care.”
Nearly 10,000 people attended the 2012 walk.
“It’s just been such a good organization for so many years and its grown because of the love that they feel when they’re a part of this,” said Debra Lustberg, Adamski’s daughter, who walked Sunday.
While the high turnout inspired many, Felipe said its sad there are so many affected by cancer.
“We have to find a cure,” she said.